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Betrayed by God?

Have you ever felt betrayed by God? When prayers you have desperately prayed, seem to go unheard and unanswered? When the promises you have clung to appear empty and without fulfilment? When the hope you have kept alive is finally dashed beyond repair…

“Has his steadfast love for ever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” – Psalm 77:8-9

Maybe your prayers have sounded like this at times… or your secret thoughts. What is it that causes that deep grief?

“This is my grief: that the right hand of the Most High has changed” – Psalm 77:10

To the psalmist’s eyes, God’s blessing had changed. The right hand signified blessing, and it seemed God had removed that or changed his character. This grieved him more than anything else. I think this is also what most deeply grieves us in any situation. It is not always the circumstances themselves that drive us to despair, but the fact that we cannot see God in them, and to us it seems that he has changed, failed, given up, or betrayed us.

God is unchangeable. He cannot lie. He cannot deny who He is. Yet there are things that we cannot and never will understand, things that we won’t be able to reconcile to a good God.

I think often our feeling of betrayal by God comes from our expectation. We read promises like “all things work together for good”, and “I will prosper the righteous”, and we imagine a life full of blessings, victories, and prayers answered how we want them. When this does not happen, we think God must be false to His promises, but maybe it is just that we never really grasped them in the first place.

I am not saying here that we should not live in expectation… of course we should! We have a great God who works to bless his people and we should have confidence in that… only that we should not define what that blessing is.

We so like to tell God what is best. Our idea of God’s best for us is health, a job or ministry we love, a happy family, good finances, and a bit of spiritual growth too. But look at the way He promises to care for us in John 15. He promises to prune us to make us grow and thrive. This means being cut back, experiencing frustration, disappointment, and loss. These may be big or little things, but He loves us enough to do whatever is necessary to make us grow, thrive, and produce an abundant harvest in Him, and that includes allowing pain and loss.

Another mistake we make is to tell God when and how. A good friend and role-model of mine said recently

When God gives you a promise, it’s because you’re going to need it.

That is so simple, but a truth very few of us grasp. If it is all going to happen now, what need is there for Him to have given a promise? When we receive God’s promises, we want to see it happen… now! But He gives us promises as hope to cling on to when it looks impossible. He gives us promises for things we are going to have to wait for. He gives us promises so we have a window into the goodness of God when we can find it nowhere else.

And this is the psalmist’s response. He cannot see it now, but he declares what he knows about God…

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What God is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people…” – Psalm 77:11-15

One thing I have discovered is that God fulfils every promise he has made… but the fulfilment of those is very rarely what I have expected. He answers every prayer… but his answer is not always how we want.

In the preface to her book “Joni”, Joni Eareckson Tada (a quadriplegic) wrote

“To rephrase this thought, I suggest that there are likewise only two joys. One is having God answer all your prayers; the other is not receiving the answer to all your prayers. I believe this because I have found that God knows my needs infinitely better than I know them. And He is utterly dependable, no matter which direction our circumstances take us.”

He is faithful. He is enough. He is all I need. But let’s be real about the pain and confusion that can make us question, and the times we feel God has let us down or betrayed us. May God enable us to embrace each joy He gives… through the answers we want, and the ones we don’t. And may He strengthen us to hold onto truth. To hold onto the promises He’s given us for the waiting. And to hold onto the memories of His goodness to us and the anchor of our Hope – Jesus crucified for us, and certain, glorious eternity with Him.

Press on, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Press on to receive that crown of glory He has waiting for you. It will be worth it!

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“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” – Philippians 3:8-9

Our identity in Christ is such a wonderful and glorious thing. It is wonderful just to be made in His Image, but this goes further than that. When we are His, we receive the identity Jesus won for us.

What does this mean? The way I picture it is this: when Jesus was hanging on the cross, a divine exchange was made. In that moment every sin, shame or wrongdoing, was nailed on Him, and He received the punishment for them. All our names of “Failure”, “Unwanted”, “Unlovely”, “No belonging”, “Sinful”, “Unworthy”, “Useless”, “Ashamed”, “Worthless”… He took on himself, and as He died, these died with Him. Forever.

And then He rose – our glorious, beautiful, powerful, holy, and righteous King! And with Him, we rose. The new you.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus is Holy. In Him we are holy.

Jesus is righteous. In Him we are righteous.

Jesus is the Approved of God. In Him we are the Approved of God.

Jesus is God’s chosen one. In Him we are God’s chosen ones.

Jesus is the cornerstone. We are built on Him – living stones creating a temple, a dwelling place for God, a spiritual house.

Jesus is the head. We are His body, called to see, hear, serve, and speak, as he directs. And as He was broken and given out for many, we too are called to be broken and given, and through our wounds to minister the healing of His.

Jesus is the Beloved. In Him we too are God’s Beloved.

Jesus came as a servant. In Him our calling is as servants.

Jesus is the sacrifice that bought our salvation. In Him we are called to be living sacrifices, withholding nothing from God, and fully devoted to Him.

Jesus is the perfect high priest. In Him we are His holy priesthood.

You want to know who you are? You want to find your identity and calling? Look to Jesus.

Smash the mirror. Gaze at God.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” – 1 Corinthians 3:18

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 2:4-5

You Are. This is not an identity you work your way to. It is not for another point in your life when you are less sinful, more useful, have brought dozens of people to know Christ, cleaned up the mess in your life, sorted those habitual sins, have learned to control your temper, be more organised, and watch your tongue. It is not for the spiritual Christians, or the mature ones. This is for all those who are In Him.

Those names we mentioned at the beginning, and any others you have earned yourself, leave them in the grave where they belong. That is not who you are. That is not who He is creating you to be.

Look to Him and receive the names He speaks over you…

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people, once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” – 1 Peter 2:9-10

Hephzibah

Illustration by Valerie Martin

Bible, Christian, Digging Deeper, identity

In Christ

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Treasures of darkness


“I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” – Isaiah 45:3

In suffering, we are often given verses that promise good things – hope and future, that He’ll make your ways straight, that all things will work out together for good, but as Christians we tend to diminish the reality of suffering when we do this. We take God’s promises too lightly. We pretend that because God has said these things we shouldn’t struggle. And when we do this, we miss the whole point of a suffering Saviour entering into our brokenness – the ultimate promise of scripture fulfilled in suffering. 

If God’s promise of perfect salvation came through suffering, then could his other promises too?

Treasures of darkness is my journey of recapturing the preciousness of God’s promises where they shine brightest – in darkness. It is my attempt to share my wrestling with God through suffering. It is my heart’s cry of “Lord, show me how to live the abundant life in brokenness!”

“Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.” – Charles Spurgeon 

Several years ago I entered a season of night. Within the church we were heavily involved in, things went very wrong, and for a while we lost almost every friend we ever had. At the same time my Dads business crashed, and within our family we went through a heart scare and leukaemia scare, both of which turned out to be less frightening, but had extended time of tests and uncertainty. My baby faith of just over a year (I was just turning 13), was getting quite a shaking. A few months after leaving the church, my mum became pregnant – our first ray of light. Not long after finding out, she miscarried and the baby died, and with it what seemed the last ray of hope. Had God abandoned us?

A year after leaving the church, things were slightly less drastic. We were still grieving and finding our feet, but it seemed that the worst was over. Then I started with health difficulties. I didn’t take any notice for a while, I never took time off to be ill anyway… but as time went on things grew worse. I kept pushing until I finally collapsed, unable to do anything. The diagnosis – ME/CFS. 

I knew some of what this meant – tiredness, a few years with limitations… but I had no idea what lay in store. 

Since, God has taken me through nights of incredible darkness and pain… both figuratively and literally. I went through years of sleepless nights, when the pain – physical and emotional – would become unbearable, rising up like a silent scream so I would have to cover my mouth not to wake my family. Hours of darkness every night is a very vulnerable time for spiritual attack. There have been times I have felt unable to pray, only cry out to Him. Often it seems the clouds have come and covered even the stars in those black nights. But sometimes God has cleared away those clouds, and a star has shone through of such incredible beauty that even the memory of it is enough to give hope when the clouds come back. Over the years, He has allowed me to see a whole galaxy of stars – the secret riches of suffering. These are what I want to share.

Stars cannot be seen in daylight, neither can the full preciousness of God’s promises be known in prosperity. He is not only a God who works in suffering, he is a God revealed through suffering. The God who came and suffered, who redeemed our brokenness by becoming brokenness, and who bought eternal life through death. If we are to follow this God, surely we must follow his way.

There are treasures to be found in darkness, and abundant life in brokenness. But these treasures are not just on my path, I know they can be found to anyone who looks. My prayer is that for those who are walking in darkness that this will serve as a guide to your hand to reach out and receive these treasures, discover their beauty for yourself, and add them to your crown of life for eternity. 

I pray also that the wondrous beauty of our God – a God who revealed the extent of his love and glorious redemption in a moment of utter darkness as Jesus was broken, poured out, and abandoned – would continue to reveal himself in our suffering. And that we, his people, would learn to walk the way of the cross – the broken way that leads to abundant life. 

Hephzibah

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